By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
Charlotte at Mariner
Time: 7 p.m., today.
Last year: Charlotte 12-1 (lost in Class 6A state semis); Mariner 3-7.
Players to watch: Charlotte: Savorion Warren (Sr., ATH), Ny Harvey (Sr., ATH), Andrew Grace (Sr., ATH), Zach Radulesco (Sr., QB), Anthony Squitieri (Jr., QB), Jordan Deackoff (Sr., DL); Mariner: Hunter Reeves (Sr., QB), Dylan Hinz (So., QB), Chris Ramsey (TE, Sr.).
What to expect: This game may show who the starting quarterback is for the Tarpons as Coach Binky Waldrop still hasn’t officially announced a starter for next week’s opener at Dunbar. Mariner is a young team that ended last season on a six-game skid and is led by quarterback Hunter Reeves, who loves throwing to tight end Chris Ramsey. Charlotte shouldn’t have a problem in this one.
Bishop Verot at Lemon Bay
Time: 7 p.m., Friday.
Last year: Bishop Verot (6-5, lost in Class 4A region quarterfinals); Lemon Bay 3-7.
Players to watch: Bishop Verot: Korey Besse (Sr., QB), William Scott (Sr., RB), Marcus Evans (Sr., WR); Lemon Bay:Hayden Wolff (Jr., QB), Justin Hinck (Sr., OL/DL), Michael Morales (Sr., DL), Logan Lydic (Sr., LB), Dan Baldor (Sr., WR/S).
What to expect: This game features a matchup of two first-year head coaches who were promoted from coodinators last season. While Don Southwell was Lemon Bay’s defensive coordinator, Josh Vogelbach was Bishop Verot’s offensive coordinator. The matchup of quarterbacksbetween Lemon Bay’s Hayden Wolff and Bishop Verot’s Korey Besse should also make this an interesting game.
North Port at Island Coast
Time: 7 p.m., Friday.
Last year: North Port 1-9; Island Coast 1-9
Players to watch: North Port: C.K. Poulos (Sr., WR), Devon Allen (Sr. QB), Javon Howell (Sr., RB/ DB), Dane Balsinger (Sr., OL/DL), Phillip Osipov (Sr., TE/DE); Island Coast: William Jenkins (Sr., QB), Traigh Harigan (Jr., RB/WR), Damien Jennings (Jr., DB).
What to expect: Both teams are hoping for big turnarounds in 2017. The Bobcats and Gators only won one game apiece last season and will look to get off on the right foot in the preseason classic. While Island Coast is a relatively young team thanks to graduation and transfers, North Port returns most of its squad from 2016 and hopes to get its turnaround started with a win.
Hardee at Port Charlotte
Time: 7:30 p.m., Friday.
Last year: Port Charlotte 8-2 (lost in Class 6A region quarterfinals); Hardee (8-3, lost in Class 5A region quarterfinals).
Players to watch: Hardee: Matt Tyson (Jr., LB), Randy McLeod (Jr., LB); Port Charlotte: Devin Leacock (Sr., DL), Paul Barnes (Sr., QB), TJ Luther (Sr., WR/S), Shawn Campbell (RB, S), Marc Jean-Louis (Jr., RB), Luidson Jeanty (Sr., DL).
What to expect: This is a matchup between two playoff teams from last season. Hardee was the District 5A-11 champions in 2016, but lost a lot of its offensive firepower to graduation making the Wildcats a bit of a mystery entering the season. Port Charlotte has a chance to do some serious damage in Class 6A this season thanks to multiple starters returning on both sides of the ball, including The Sun’s defensive player of the year Devin Leacock. Expect the Pirates to come out hungry to get their season started with a bang.